Early Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1960 | 105,501 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Parantaka I to Rajaraja I in the timeframe A.D. 907-985. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Temples in Tiruvidavendai (Tiruvidavendai)

Tiruvidandai is a village in the Chingleput district. It is 26 miles (41.84 km.) from Madras on the way to Mamallapuram. According to local legends, a sage by the name of Galava had 360 daughters and they were offered in marriage to the Lord who appeared before h i m as a brahmacharin of the Kasyapa gotra. He agreed and one after the other was given in marriage each day. On the last day the Lord appeared in the form of Varaha (boar) and made all the 360 daughters into one person, Akilavallinachchiyar and placed her on the left side of Varahamurti (Tiru-ida-vendai: ida = left). The Lord (the processional image) came to be known as Nitya-Kalyana Perumal and the place as Nitya Kalyanapuri. It was also known by other names, viz. Sripuri and Varahapuri or Asura-kula-kalanallur. The Vimana is called Sri Kalyana vimana or Yajna-vimana.

Varaha temple

The Lord of this place is said to have granted grace to Bali the asura, Galava rishi, and Markandeya.

Tirumangai Alvar, the Vaishnavite saint (8th century a.d.) and the contemporary of the Pallava king Nandi-varman II has sung a decad on this Lord. There was in this place a mutt called after him the gan matham, so the temple must have been in existence at least in the 8th century a.d., perhaps even earlier; but the present structure could be assigned only to the 10th and some parts even to the 11th century. In inscriptions, it is called Tiruvida in Paduvur-nadu, a sub-division of Amur kottam. This is a temple dedicated to Varaha Perumal. Here the Devi is held on the left side of the Lord (Tiru-ida-vendai) while in the Adivaraha temple at Mamallapuram the goddess is on the right side; hence the Lord at Mamallapuram is known as Tiru-valavendai ().

On the north base of the central shrine, there is an inscription of the 20th regnal year of Kannaradeva. It mentions a gift of land for a lamp to the temple of Yarahadeva where the wife of a certain Alattulan Ranakesari of Paduvur had set up an image of the deity (a.r. 270 of 1910).

There are three inscriptions of a Parakesarivarman alias Parthivendravarman who took the head of Vira Pandya. One of them is an inscription of the 6th regnal year of Parakesari Vendradhivarman. This is engraved on the north base of the Sri Vimana. It concerns a gift of 12 kalanju of gold for burning a lamp in the Varaha temple by a native of Taiyur alias Talaisayana-puram (12 miles - 19.20 km. north-west of Mamallapuram). The Sabhaiyom and the Urom of this place agreed to supply one ulakku of oil every day for its upkeep (SII, III, p. Ill, no. 180: A.R. no. 269 of 1910).

The prefix Parakesari suggests that he was a royal prince enjoying kingly privileges. It is not unlikely that he was posted in the northern frontier of the Chola empire for the recovery of those parts lost to the Rashtrakutas after the Chola disaster at Takkolam in a.d. 949; Perhaps he was later made crown-prince enjoying joint-rule with his father Sundara Chola with the title of Aditya II Karikala.

Another inscription also on the north base of the central shrine is of the 8th regnal year of Ko-Parthi-vendradhivarman. It records a gift of 93 sheep for a perpetual lamp in the temple of Varahadeva of Tiruvi-dandai by a native of Taiyur alias Talasayanapuram (a.r. 265 of 1910). Another of his 8th year also on the (north) base of the central shrine refers to the idol of Manavalapperumal (Nitya Kalyana Perumal) which two brothers had caused to be cast and set up in the temple of the glorious Varahasvamin at Tiruvidavendai. They made a grant of 15 kalanju of gold. The Sabhaiyom and the Urom of Tiruvidavendai received the gold and agreed to supply every year by way of interest 56 kadi of paddy for offerings to the deity (264 of 1910, SII, III, pt III, no. 186). Parthivendravarman’s identity is not yet indisputably established. His inscriptions ranging up to his 13th regnal year are found in Chin-gleput, North and South Arcot districts of Tamil Nadu (see Parthivendradhipativarman).

H. Krishna Sastri has stated that “he might have been a prince of the royal family and the viceroy of Tondaimandalam, and Aditya (II) alias Karikala appears to have been the actual successor. It seems likely that this royal prince was engaged in the days of Sundara Chola in the efforts to recover the northern part of the Chola Empire which had been conquered and ruled for nearly a quarter of a century by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III, who enjoyed the title of Kannaradeva, the conqueror of Kachchi and Tanjai. It is likely that he took an active part also in the war against Vira Pandya and was later made viceroy of Tondaimandalam. Whether he was the same as Aditya II Karikala we do not know. It may be guessed that Sundara Chola made him heir-apparent in a.d 964, christened him Parakesari Aditya II and so was his co-ruler till he was murdered five years later.”

The above shrewd inferences seem to be well justified. I would only like to add that in all probability after his viceroyalty in Tondaimandalam he might have been made co-ruler in the latter half of his father Sundara Chola’s days.

It is likely that this temple was in existence some time (before a.d. 964) in the days of Sundara Chola (i.e. in the middle of the tenth century a.d.). How much earlier, we are not in a position to say.

The next inscription also on the north base of the central shrine is one of the 6th year of a Parakesarivar-man (268 of 1910) who can be identified with Uttama Chola (a.d. 969-985). It records a gift of 30 kalanju of gold for a perpetual lamp to be burnt in the temple of Manavalapperumal and the Urom agreed to measure out one iilakku of oil every day for the maintenance of the lamp (SII, III, pt. Ill, no. 125).

There are four inscriptions of Rajaraja I. One of his 17th year (a.d. 1002) relates to the provision made on the occasion of the birthday of the king for the celebration of a festival lasting seven days from Avani Sadayam, his natal star, which included arrangements for the sacred bath and for offerings. Two more inscriptions, one of his 19th year and another of his 29th year, provide for the celebration of the Panguni Uttiram and Masi Makham festivals.

An inscription of the 35th year of Rajadhiraja I alias Vijayarajendra Chola (a.d. 1018-1054) mentions the gift of the village of Tiruvidandai as a devadana to the Lord of this temple on his birthday (natal star—Puram).

In the 45th year of Kulottunga I (a.d. 1070-1120) we know of the existence here of a matha named after Tirumangai Alvar - Kalichchingan-matham - to which an endowment is made to feed Vaishnavite brahmans on Amavasya days.

The temple faces the east and the sea. It is a dvi-tala structure, with a square griva and sikhara (now renovated). The old prasada consisted of the garbha-griha and the ardhamandapct. The devakoshtas have (clock-wise, from the south) Ganapati and Achyuta (Vishnu) in the south; Satya (Vishnu) in the west and Purusha (Vishnu) and Vishnu-Durgai in the north. The adhishthana stands on a upa-pitham three feet high. The outer walls near the ardhamandapa are adorned with koshta panjaras (Pis. 281-285). In the south-east corner there is a stone sculpture of Varaha in a small sanctum.

This is one of the few Vishnu temples retaining the features of an early Chola stone temple.

The presence of an inscription of the 20th year of Kannaradeva (A.R. 270 of 1910), three inscriptions of Parthivendradhivarman (one of the 6th and two of the 8th years) and one of the 6th regnal year of a Parakesarivarman who is to be identified with Uttama Chola, all of them on the of the central shrine, go to establish the existence of this temple of stone in the period before the accession of Rajaraja I (a.d. 985). It is one of the few Vaishnava temples of the early Chola age still in a fair state of preservation.

The Chola rulers of the middle Chola period have also made considerable additions to it in the 11th century.


Parthivendradhipativarman was a Chola prince of the pre-Rajaraja I age. He is variously described in his inscriptions as :
1. Parthivendravarman - 5th year - Tirumullaivayil (676 of 1904. SII. Ill, no. 174).

2. Parakesari Vendradhivarman - 6th year - Tiruvidandai (269 of 1910, SII, m, No. 180).

3. Kovirajamarayar who took the head of Vira Pandya - 8th year-Tiruvidandai (264 of 1910; SII, III, no. 186).

4. Partama Maharaja who took the head of Vira Pandya: Uttaramerur (SII, IE, no 152 - AR no. 88 of 1898).

5. Vira Pandyan talai konda Ko Maharaya - 2nd year - Brahmadesam, (AR no. 223 of 1915).

6. Vira Pandyan talai konda Ko Parthivendradhipanmar - 13th year - Tirumal-puram - Siva temple (266 of 1906 - SH, HI, no. 197).

7. Vira Pandyan Talai konda Parthivendra Adityaperumanar - Uttaramerur (38 of 1898 SH, m, no. 158).

It is not unlikely that all these records relate to the same chief Parthi-vendradhipativarman though described in different ways.

The names of some of his queens are found mentioned in the inscriptions of Parthivendravarman:

1. Villavan Mahadeviyar - Uttaramerur - Vaikuntha Perumal temple, (sn, n, no. 193 ; A.R. no. 32 of 1898).

2. Tribhuvana Mahadeviyar - Uttaramerur - Sundara Varada Perumal temple. 12th year 32nd day (SH, m - 194; AR 49 of 1898) (SII, HI -195: A.R. 52 of 1898).

3. (Udaiyar) Deviyar Arumolinartgaiyar-Takkolam, 3rd year (SII, in, no. 166: A.R. no. 7 of 1897).

4. Darmaponnar alias Trailokya Madeviyar - Kanchi - 12th year and 13th year (A.R. no. 17 of 1921 - 12th year; A.R. no. 18 of 1921 - 13th year; A.R. no, 19 of 1921 - 13th year).

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: